Every time I head out, this bridge project gets just a little but harder. The Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges were an easy couple of miles from my home. So were the Gowanus Bridges. The Williamsburg was just a little bit further, but well within my running comfort zone. Now that I’m starting to go a little further afield, things are getting interesting… and I’m having to pack my metro card.
This weekend I got the Queensboro, the ugliest (and longest?) of the Big Four East River bridges and the always charming Pulaski.
That’s ten down, eighty-one to go.
For this weekend’s adventure, I convinced good pal Paleo Joe to come along. Joe is exactly the kind of friend every runner needs — he’s always up for a stupid running adventure. When I asked him if he wanted to meet in his neighborhood and run to the Pulaski Bridge, through Long Island City to the Queensboro, and then take the train home from 42nd street he said “sure”.
Runners, we’re all such idiots.
We got the party started around 8 am. I’d have left earlier, but Joe doesn’t have kids and he still clings to the idea that one “sleeps in” on the weekends. Its cute. From Joe’s place, we cruised down Washington Avenue to Flushing and hung a right, following the bike path as it meandered through Bed Stuy, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.
Man has Williamsburg changed. I lived in that neighborhood roughly 10,000 years ago (ok, 1993-1994) when it was Puerto Rican bodegas, Polish Bakeries, and a handful of gentrifiers too poor to live in the Lower East Side. The abandoned warehouse where I went to the Beer Olympics* is now a high-rise apartment building. The first apartment I lived in is now a club.
New York: its only constant is change.
From Williamsburg, we headed up through Greenpoint and over the Pulaski Bridge to Long Island City. The Pulaski spans the Newtown Creek** and is the second bridge you cross in the New York Marathon***.
The Pulaski looking towards Queens
Its drawbridge, though I wonder how often its raised anymore. It also has some pretty killer views of midtown Manhattan. It always reminds me of my first marathon.
Manhattan from the Pulaski
Pedestrian access to the Pulaski is from McGuiness boulevard. You can’t miss it.
From the Pulaski, it was up through Greenpoint to the Queensboro**** – the East River’s ugliest bridge.
What is there to redeem this monstrosity? Decent views looking up the east river and down at Roosevelt Island? A long approach on the Queens side providing a scenic overlook of the Queensbridge Projects*****?
The view North from the Queensboro
I don’t know; I’m not really a fan of this bridge. The Queens approach is ridiculously long (and accessible from Crescent Street and Queens Plaza North) and the Manhattan exit is stupid steep with a hairpin turn.
It is also where the New York Marathon got real painful for me. That may cloud my judgment of its aesthetic appeal.
After crossing the Queensboro, it was a short jaunt to 42 Street and home on the 4 train. You’d think two sweaty, smelly, tattooed dudes in singlets would get a wide berth on the train, but you’d be wrong. Some dude was perfectly happy rubbing up against my nasty ass singlet just so he could lean against the doors.
This town fucking cracks me up.
*The Beer Olympics was a crusty/gutter punk festival of cheap beer and terrible bands held annually in New York. When it was hosted in the abandoned warehouses, it was a Mad Max affair of bonfires, drunken fights, and roaming dogs. I cannot imagine anything so out of control occurring in the New York today.
The Beer Olympics were so obscure, took place so long ago, and was organized by people with such a tenuous relationship to society that very little information about it is available on the Google.
This image is actually from the year after the year I am referring to:
Beer Olympics, 1995? Photo: Bob Arihood
** Second Superfund site crossed during this project!
*** The first one is the Veranzano, of course.
**** AKA the 59th street Bridge, AKA the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. New York is constantly renaming bridges, or giving them new nicknames. I love this. It makes what is already a very intimidating city even more confusing for visitors.
***** I’m just going to go ahead and say no single housing project has produced more important Hip Hop than Queensbridge. It was home to many of the stars of New York’s golden age of Hip Hop. Including:
Capone and Noreaga:
Want more? check out this list. Marly Marl is from there! Shante is from there! MC Shan!